KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Career days from juniors Hayley McNeill and Emelie Flink propelled Charleston Southern into a tie for third place in second round play at the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Classic on Monday. The Bucs' four-over par 292 total was the top round of the day, allowing them to jump six spots and pull within eight shots of the lead entering Tuesday's final round.
McNeill and Flink fired three-under par 69's to break 70 for the first time in their collegiate careers. Shelby Thompson and Hannah Barger carded under-par front nine's as well, as coach Matt Cram-Smith's club took advantage of Oak Point's friendly greens. CSU's hot putting enabled it to string together an eight-under par front nine.
Coastal Carolina holds the 36-hole lead at seven-over 584. The Chanticleers followed a one-over first day total with a seven-over tally as play transitioned from Osprey Point to Oak. The top 22 teams will return to Osprey and vie for the championship tomorrow. East Tennessee State is in second place, seven strokes back, while host College of Charleston and CSU trail by eight. McNeill (T-5th (-2 (142)) and Flink (9th (E (144)) are both among the top ten in a field of 232 players spread across 43 programs. College of Charleston's Laura Fuenfstueck is alone in the individual lead at six-under 138. Coastal's Malene Krolboll Hansen sits in second at five under.
CSU head coach Matt Cram-Smith was thrilled to see the Bucs play their best golf on the front nine, and hopes more of the same is in store for tomorrow's third round.
"We got off to a really good start with a bunch of birdies and got it to eight-under through nine," Cram-Smith said. "The back nine wasn't as kind to us and we dropped some shots coming home. Great scores from Hayley and Emelie shooting their college career low's with 69's. Having the low round of the whole 43-team field is very nice and sets up with a chance tomorrow. It's back to Osprey tomorrow so hopefully we can make some putts early and keep it going."
The Bucs rolled home 11 birdies as part of a red-hot front nine. Flink notched four to lead the way with a three-under 33, McNeill and Barger each went out in 34 and Thompson posted a 35 to help CSU threaten Coastal's lead.
McNeill showed excellent resolve late to recover after bogeying the par-three 11th and 15th holes to fall to one under for the day and even overall. She birdied both the par-four 16th and par-five 17th before parring the closing hole.
Flink surge to five under at one point in her third round to climb into the top ten. She dropped two shots coming in with bogeys at numbers 16 and 17.
Barger remains in the field's top-50 (T-49th) following a five-over 77. Thompson also scored a 77, while Natthakan Teeratraku tallied an 83.
CSU tees off its final round at Osprey Point Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. The Bucs will play alongside Coastal, ETSU and College of Charleston.